Artist Spotlight: Meg Honnold
I was stuffing my ballet slipper backpack at the end of class when my dance teacher told my 5-year-old self, “you’ll never be the best dancer.” _____________________________________________________________________________________
I’m Meg. This is a simple story about how Jesus dispelled two myths that you and I may have in common:
1. I can’t be a Christian with a career in theatre.
2. I don’t have what it takes.
You’re probably shocked that my dance teacher would say something like that to a little kid, but I wasn’t. I knew it was the truth. I was shorter, pudgier, less flexible than the other girls. But what she said next is the part that has continued to sink in ever since: “But you love it so much. . .so don’t ever stop dancing.”
I come from a small town on a farm in the country. Storytelling has been my passion for as long as I can remember, performing anywhere: belting in the barn, making up skits at friends’ houses, church plays, auditioning for everything I could. It felt like it was what I was made to do.
As I neared high school graduation, I hit a cross-road. I had to decide where to go to college, but there were those two stubborn notions tugging me away from theatre: 1) I was convinced there was no way for me to remain grounded in my beliefs while pursuing a successful career in theatre, and 2) I believed I didn’t possess the level of talent required to be successful. After all, I was a small-town girl with a resume including a handful of community shows and a few voice lessons. . .I’d never make the cut. So I pursued colleges with a nursing program.
As graduation approached, an old director of mine off-handedly suggested I look into Sight & Sound Theatres, a company that presents the gospel in their shows. I discovered that lo-and-behold, they ran a Conservatory program designed to equip young performers with a Christian worldview as they launch into a theatre career. I had no idea anything like this existed. My wheels started turning and I got this feeling in my gut - I’d never dared to consider that I could actually go for it. Within a month, I’d dropped my college plans, applied, and booked a flight for my audition in PA.
I knew that my chances were slim, since they accepted only 10 students. Every day for months leading up to the audition, I spent hours practicing and feeling like that tiny ballerina again. I didn’t know if I’d make it in, but that didn’t actually matter - I would pursue it as long as I could, and cherish every moment. God was showing me that He wasn’t limited by the box I put Him in, OR the one I put myself in.
From the moment I got on the plane to the moment I left the building on audition day, I was soaring. I sang Barbra’s famous “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (as a personal hype song) and am very sure I cracked, but I gave that audition everything in me. I wasn’t there to prove my skill; it was more about God showing me how much He takes delight in watching His kids do what He created them to do.
For the next 6 weeks, I checked my mailbox every day. My whole (small) town supported me, and we all waited for that letter. When it finally came, I opened it with shaking hands and saw the words, “Dear Megan - congratulations!” and promptly sobbed my eyes out in pure joy and utter disbelief.
I moved 1000 miles from home.
I was pushed harder than I ever have been before.
I made lifelong best friends.
I watched my teachers and cast members live out their faith every day and discovered that Jesus Himself is the greatest Storyteller.
I discovered that yes, God absolutely works through theatre (in powerful ways) and that it can be done without compromising beliefs.
And I found that one of the biggest ways I can please God is simply by operating wholeheartedly within the gifts He’s designed me with, regardless of how I or others quantify them. I concretely believe that Jesus delights in our own, personal, unique craft (whatever it may be!), and we can leave our insecurities at the door, knowing He is the giver of it all.
Meg Honnold is the host of You Never Asked, a podcast and blog community sharing untold stories. She has a hilarious husband, a tendency to burst into song, and a pile of dishes always in the sink. To share your story or just say hi, you can reach out to Meg@YouNeverAsked.org and check out www.youneverasked.org!